Karan Johar is one of the most successful filmmakers of Bollywood and just his name, when attached to a movie, guarantees its success. Change is the only constant in the world and the same is true for Karan Johar’s movies. From his directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), KJo’s storytelling has gone through various transitions in the past 21 years. However, he always leaves a few easter eggs in the form of plot points to be spotted in almost all of his films. Let’s take a look at the various transitions his style of storytelling has gone through. Though he has produced many successful films of Bollywood, we’re only going to look at films Karan Johar has directed and written.
Karan Johar began his career by directing the hit 1998 film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In the romantic-comedy-drama, Karan Johar perfectly manages to portray a larger than life, fantasy college that anyone would drool over. The plot revolves around the love triangle between the characters of SRK, Rani Mukerji, and Kajol. The movie is filled with larger than life sequences that manage to awe us despite their unrealistic nature. These are just some of the easter eggs that keep popping up throughout KJo's subsequent movies. All-in-all KKHH was a peppy teen movie that established Karan Johar's career as a modern filmmaker of the new Bollywood.
Karan Johar followed the success of KKHH with the ultra-successful Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham... (2001). Though the premise of the film was different than that of KKHH, K3G again banked on the fantasy-college-life premise. Although the main narrative focused more on the bond between family members and the melodrama surrounding it, the larger-than-life lifestyles never let us forget it's an unapologetic KJo movie. The film revolves around the misunderstandings between an uber-rich businessman and his adoptive son and everything that goes in between.
In a departure from what had come to be known as his signature style, KJo's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) was a step in a different, bolder direction for Johar. The movie boldly ventured into territories that his first two movies wouldn't even acknowledge the existence of. KANK's plot revolved around the lives of two couples and dealt with the topic of infidelity in marriage. This would mark the beginning of a bolder path in KJo's career.
This would also pave the way for his next project, My Name Is Khan (2010), a socio-drama. Only a Karan Johar movie in name, MNIK was on a completely different tangent than other KJo movies of the past. It did not have over-the-top sets or clothes and larger than life storyline. It was a humbling movie that deserves all the praise in the world. It is the story of a man who, after a devastating incident, sets out to prove his innocence.
Following the record-shattering success of My Name Is Khan (2010), Karan decides to take a step back and get in touch with his roots. Hence, in 2012, we got Student Of The Year. SOTY was the story of a love triangle between the characters of Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, and Siddharth Malhotra. A through and through KJo film that was a complete entertainer with larger than life scenes and everything. The film served as a reminder to everyone of where KJo's prowess as a filmmaker lies.
Post SOTY, KJo's projects have taken a 180-degree turn. The focus from family, melodrama, dreamy love, and college of angels started shifting to more real issues like same-sex love, carnal desires, the stigma associated with pursuing your more intimate desires, and more. We're talking about KJo's segments in the anthologies like Bombay Velvet (2013) and Lust Stories (2018) respectively. Even in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) the narrative adopted by Johar, though similar in terms of it being based on a love triangle to his previous projects, still ended up being very mature. The lead character's relentless pursuit of his love had a very grounded yet surreal charm to it.